A Bihar man`s `salvation` service
Patna: Last year he offered `pind daan` for Michael Jackson and the year before for those killed in the Mumbai terror blasts. This year, Suresh Narayan, a small-time businessman in Bihar, has offered the Hindu ritual service seeking salvation for the dead person`s soul, for victims of Maoist violence, the Leh cloudburst and floods.
"I offered pind daan for the hundreds of victims of Maoist violence, the cloudburst in Leh, floods and those who died of starvation," Narayan said.
Narayan, who is in his early 40s and lives in Gaya town, about 100 km from Patna, has been offering the salvation prayers for the last six years for thousands of people who he has never known personally.
Thousands of Hindus from across India and abroad throng Gaya during the `Pitrapaksh` period - when pind daan is offered on the banks of the Falgu river. The 15 days of the dark half of the Hindu month of Ashwin is known as Pitrapaksh. The period is currently on.
Narayan said he organises the ritual irrespective of the dead person`s caste, religion and creed. "I have been performing the rituals for the salvation of people with whom I do not have any blood relation or any close proximity."
The businessman pays for the ritual out of his own pocket and says it is his way of offering his services to humanity.
According to Hindu belief, the soul wanders after death until the ritual prayers are performed. In Gaya, it is performed at the well-known Vishnupad temple by close kin of the dead. The priests, known as Gaywal pandas, conduct the ritual.
Legend has it that Lord Rama and his wife Sita too performed this religious rite for his father Dasharath.
Last year, Narayan performed the rituals of Michael Jackson as a tribute to him. Earlier, he had offered prayers for those killed in the Mumbai blasts, in the 2004 tsunami, the Gujarat earthquake of 2001, the terrorist attack on the Akshardham temple in 2002 and the 9/11 terror attacks in the US.
He has also performed the ritual for US-based astronaut Kalpana Chawla who was killed when space shuttle Columbia crashed, for sehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan and Mother Teresa.
Pind daan is traditionally offered by Hindus but historical records available with priests show that even some Muslims performed the ritual in the past.